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Encyclopedia > Tymnet

Italic textTymnet was an international data communications network headquartered in San Jose, CA that utilized circuit switched technology and used X.25, SNA/SDLC, BSC interfaces to connect host computers (servers)at thousands of large companies, educational institutions, and government agencies. Users typically connected via dial-up connections or dedicated async connections. The business consisted of a large public network that supported dial-up users and a private network business that allowed governement agencies and large companies (mostly banks and airlines) to build their own dedicated networks. The private networks were often connected via gateways to the public network to reach locations not on the private network. Tymnet was also connected to dozens of other public networks in the U.S. and internationally via X.25/X.75 gateways.


As the internet grew and became almost universally accessiblein the late 1990'ies, the need for services such as Tymnet migrated to the Internet style connections, but still had some value in the third world and for specific legacy roles. However the value of these links continued to decrease, and Tymnet was officially shut down in 2004. For the Jamaican reggae band, see Third World (band). ...

Contents


Network

Tymnet offered local dial-up modem access in most cities in the United States and to a limited degree in Canada as well. A modem (a portmanteau word constructed from modulator and demodulator) is a device that modulates a carrier signal to encode digital information, and also demodulates such a carrier signal to decode the transmitted information. ...

Tymnet users connected with remote systems with a simple command-line interface.
Tymnet users connected with remote systems with a simple command-line interface.

Users would dial into Tymnet and then interact with a simple command-line interface to establish a connection with a remote system. Once connected, data was passed to and from the user as if connected directly to a modem on the distant system. For various technical reasons, the connection was not entirely "invisible", and sometimes required the user to enter arcane commands to make 8-bit clean connections work properly for file transfer. Download high resolution version (1232x1059, 265 KB) A Televideo 925 computer terminal. ... Download high resolution version (1232x1059, 265 KB) A Televideo 925 computer terminal. ...


Tymnet was extensively used by large companies to provide dial-up services for their employees who were "on the road", as well as a gateway for users to connect to large online services such as CompuServe or The Source. An online service provider is an entity which provides a service online. ... CompuServe, (in full, CompuServe Information Services, or CIS), was the first major commercial online service in the United States, dominating the field during the 1980s and remaining a major player through the mid-1990s when it was sidelined by the rise of GUI-based services such as America Online (AOL). ... The Source was the name of an early on-line service. ...


Organization and functionality

In its original implementation, the network supervisor contained most of the routing intelligence in the network. Unlike the TCP/IP protocol underlying the internet, Tymnet used a circuit switching layout which allowed the supervisors to be aware of every possible end-point. In its original incarnation, the users connected to nodes built using Varian minicomputers, then entered commands that were passed to the supervisor which ran on a XDS 940 host. The Internet protocol suite is the set of communications protocols that implement the protocol stack on which the Internet runs. ... A circuit switched network is one where a dedicated connection (circuit or channel) must be set up between two nodes before they may communicate. ...


Circuits were character oriented and the network was oriented towards interactive character-by-character full-duplex communications circuits. The nodes handled character translation between various character sets, which were numerous at that point in time. This did have the side effect of making data transfers quite difficult, as bytes from the file would be invisibly "translated" without specific intervention on the part of the user. A duplex communication system is one where signal can flow in both directions between connected parties. ... A character encoding is a code that pairs a set of characters (such as an alphabet or syllabary) with a set of something else, such as numbers or electrical pulses. ... A byte is commonly used as a unit of storage measurement in computers, regardless of the type of data being stored. ...


Tymnet later developed their own custom hardware, the Tymnet Engine, which contained both nodes and a supervisor running on one of those nodes. As the network grew, the supervisor was in danger of being overloaded by the sheer number of nodes in the network, since the requirements for controlling the network took a great part of the supervisor's capacity.


Tymnet II was developed in response to this challenge. Tymnet II was developed to ameliorate the problems outlined above by off-loading some of the work-load from the supervisor and providing greater flexibility in the network by putting more intelligence into the node code. A Tymnet II node would set up its own "permuter tables", eliminating the need for the supervisor to keep copies of them, and had greater flexibility in handling its inter-node links. Data transfers were also possible via "auxiliary circuits".


History

Beginnings

Tymshare was founded in 1966 as a time sharing company, selling computer time and software packages for users. It had two SDS/XDS 940 computers; access was via direct dial-up to the computers. 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... (Type of Multi-Tasking Operating Systems) Time Sharing system is a type of Multi-Tasking Operating Systems which operates in an interactive mode with a quick response time. ... Scientific Data Systems, or SDS, was a computer company founded in September 1961 by Max Palevsky, a veteran of Packard Bell and Bendix, along with eleven other computer scientists. ... In telecommunication, the term dial-up has the following meanings: Dial-up access, typically to the Internet A service feature in which a user initiates service on a previously arranged trunk or transfers, without human intervention, from an active trunk to a standby trunk. ...


In 1968, Ann & Norm Hardy, Bill Frantz, Joe Rinde, and LaRoy Tymes developed the idea of using remote sites with minicomputers to communicate with the mainframes. The minicomputers would serve as the network's nodes, running a program called a "Supervisor" to route data. In November 1971, the first Tymnet Supervisor program became operational. Written in assembly code by LaRoy Tymes for the SDS 940, with architectural design contributions from Norman Hardy, the "Supervisor" was the beginning of the Tymnet network. The Varian 620i was also used for the TYMNET nodes. During those first years, Tymshare and its direct customers were the network's only users. 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1968 calendar). ... 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1971 calendar). ...


It soon became apparent that the SDS 940 could not keep up with the rapid growth of the network. In 1972, Joseph Rinde joined the Tymnet group and began porting the Supervisor code to the 32-bit Interdata 7/32, as the 8/32 was not yet ready. In 1973, the 8/32 became available, but the performance was disappointing and a crash-effort was made to develop a machine that could run Rinde's Supervisor. 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1972 calendar). ... The Interdata 7/32 and 8/32 were 32-bit minicomputers developed by Interdata in the 1970s. ... 1973 (MCMLXXIII) was a common year starting on Monday. ...


In 1974, a second, more efficient version of the Supervisor software became operational. The new Tymnet "Engine" software was used on both the Supervisor machines and on the nodes. 1974 (MCMLXXIV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (the link is to a full 1974 calendar). ...


After the migration to Interdata, they started developing Tymnet on PDP-10. Tymshare sold the Tymnet network software to TRW, who created their own private network, TRWNET. The PDP-10 was a computer manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) from the late 1960s on; the name stands for Programmed Data Processor model 10. It was the machine that made time-sharing common; it looms large in hacker folklore because of its adoption in the 1970s by many... TRW Incorporated was an American corporation involved in a number of businesses, mostly defense-related, but including automotive supply and credit reporting. ...


Tymes and Rinde then developed Tymnet II. Tymnet II ran in parallel with the original network, which continued to run on the Varian machines until it was phased out over a period of several years. Tymnet II's different method of constructing virtual circuits allowed for much better scalability.


Tymnet Inc spun off

A Tymnet node, in 1983.
A Tymnet node, in 1983.

In about 1979, Tymnet Inc. was spun off from Tymshare Inc. to continue administration and development of the network. The network continued to grow, and customers who owned their own host computers and wanted access to them from remote sites became interested in connecting their computers to the network. This led to the foundation of Tymnet as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tymshare to run a public network as a common carrier within the United States. This allowed users to connect their host computers and terminals to the network, and use the computers from remote sites or sell time on their computers to other users of the network, with Tymnet charging them for the use of the network. Image File history File links A FIRN Tymnet node at NERDC (now known as the University of Florida Computing & Networking Services unit) in 1983. ... Image File history File links A FIRN Tymnet node at NERDC (now known as the University of Florida Computing & Networking Services unit) in 1983. ... 1983 (MCMLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... This page refers to the year 1979. ...


Trouble reporting on Tymnet was done through TTS/PAPER (the Trouble Ticket System), which ran on two mainframes from Digital Equipment Corporation. These PDP-10 computers, model KL-1090, were accessible via the Tymnet Packet Network as Tymshare hosts 23 and 26. Each computer was the size of 5 refrigerators, and had a string of disks that looked like 18 washing machines. Their power supplies produced +5 volts at 200 amps (non-switching) making them expensive to operate. The PDP-10s ran TYMCOM-X, an offshoot of TOPS-10 modified by Tymshare. The application was written in FORTRAN and used the 1022 database. Digital Equipment Corporation was a pioneering company in the American computer industry. ...


Concert

In 1984 Tymnet was bought by the McDonnell Douglas Corporation. In the very late 80's / early 90's, there was a trial of "next-generation" nodes scattered throughout the network, called "TURBO nodes" and based on the Motorola 68000 family. Also, in the mid to late 80's, serious node-code development was migrated off of the PDP-10's to Sun Microsystems Sun3 (and later Sun4) machines, though the majority of PDP-10's were still around in the early 90's for legacy code, as well as documentation storage. By this time, all of the code development trees were on the Sun4's, and the development tools (NAD, etc.) had been ported to SunOS. DC-10, retired from American Airlines fleet at gate McDonnell Douglas was a major American aerospace manufacturer, producing a number of famous commercial and military aircraft. ... The Motorola 68000 is a 32 bit CISC microprocessor, the first member of a successful family of microprocessors from Motorola, which were all mostly software compatible. ... Sun Microsystems, Inc. ... SunOS was the version of the UNIX operating system developed by Sun Microsystems for their workstations and server systems until the early 1990s. ...


In 1989, BT North America bought Tymnet from McDonnell Douglas, and renamed the network BT Tymnet. 1989 (MCMLXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... BT Group plc (also known as British Telecommunications plc) which trades as BT (and previously as British Telecom) is the privatised UK state telecommunications operator. ...


In 1993 MCI Communications (MCI) bought Tymnet in order to create Concert. The new name was CPS (Concert Packet-switching Services). Tymnet had outlived its parent company Tymshare. 1993 (MCMXCIII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and marked the Beginning of the International Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (1993-2003). ... MCIs original corporate logo MCI Communications was an American telecommunications company that was instrumental in legal and regulatory changes that led to the breakup of the AT&T monopoly of American telephony. ...


In May 1994, there were still three DEC KL-10s under TYMCOM-X. At this time, the network had approximately 5000 nodes in 30 foreign countries. A variety of protocols can be run over a single packet-switching-network, and Tymnet's most used protocols were X.25, asynchronous (ATI/AHI) and SNA. 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International year of the Family. ... X.25 is an ITU-T standard protocol suite for WAN networks using the phone or ISDN system as the networking hardware. ... Systems Network Architecture (SNA) is IBMs proprietary networking architecture created in 1974. ...


Major upgrades

Although BT was fully out of the picture, and MCI was acquired by WorldCom, Tymnet survived its transient past to remain a strategically valuable network. Shortly before ceasing operations, it had about 5200 nodes, 4000 of which were in the US. However, as the network turned 30 years old, a major upgrade was necessary if Tymnet was going to continue as a cost-effective backbone. For a time, WorldCom (WCOM) was the United States second largest long distance phone company (AT&T was the largest). ...


Dennis Jonas (advisory engineer for local and strategic engineering) planned the network-wide upgrade, which began in 1996 and was still ongoing when the network ceased operations. The project aimed to reduce operating costs for Tymnet's 115 legacy X.25 switching centers, while migrating away from a technical and cumbersome assembly language operating system that Tymnet had developed. The company wanted to replace proprietary equipment and protocol with open, modern off-the-shelf solutions that could improve the efficiency of these centers. MCI was seeking to install about one new system for every five to ten pieces of legacy server equipment housed in its switching centers. MCI also wanted to reduce the number of access nodes in the network by closing more than 400 asynchronous access sites and back-hauling the access points to other nodes. The eventual goal was to collapse more than 500 access nodes into about 50. MCI logo MCI, Inc. ...


Jonas decided that the Solaris operating system developed by Sun Microsystems fit the bill for Tymnet's operations and management needs. Although rack-mount solutions tend to cost more than other options, the ease and speed of installing rack-mount systems promised to minimize the time and hassle inherent to a broad network upgrade. MCI contracted with Sun reseller Artecon to carry out the upgrade. Artecon's rack-mount PowerSphinx solution, based on Sun's Sparc 20, supported a -48 volt DC power environment for standard 110-volt servers and peripherals, and it was compliant with Bellcore's NEBS standards. MCI installed 25 Sphinx units in switching centers in Dallas and Chicago during the second half of 1996 and installed about 120 units in these and other cities, including Los Angeles, San Jose, Doraville, Ga., and Fairfax, Va. This article or section contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ... The introduction of this article does not provide enough context for readers unfamiliar with the subject. ... Dallas redirects here. ... Chicago (officially named the City of Chicago) is the third largest city in the United States (after New York City and Los Angeles), with an official population of 2,896,016, as of the 2000 census. ... This article is about the largest city in California. ... San José – or its anglicised form San Jose – is the Spanish for Saint Joseph. ... Fairfax is an independent city located within the confines of Fairfax County in the Commonwealth of Virginia. ...


In 1996 the DEC PDP-10s that ran Tymnet's trouble-ticket system were replaced by PDP-10 clones from XKL PLC. They were accessible via TCP/IP as ticket.tymnet.com and token.tymnet.com, by both TELNET and HTTP. A low-end workstation from Sun Microsystems was used as a telnet gateway; it accepted X.25 logins from the Tymnet network and forwarded them to "ticket" and/or "token". The XKL systems ran TOPS-20. The application was ported to a newer version of the FORTRAN compiler, and still used the 1022 database. After 1998, both systems were decommissioned. 1996 (MCMXCVI) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. ... The Internet protocol suite is the set of communications protocols that implement the protocol stack on which the Internet runs. ... Microsoft TELNET client animation. ... HTTP (for HyperText Transfer Protocol) is the primary method used to convey information on the World Wide Web. ... Sun Microsystems, Inc. ... Microsoft TELNET client animation. ... X.25 is an ITU-T standard protocol suite for WAN networks using the phone or ISDN system as the networking hardware. ... The TOPS-20 operating system by DEC was the second proprietary OS for the PDP-10. ... Fortran (also FORTRAN) is a computer programming language originally developed in the 1950s; it is still used for scientific computing and numerical computation half a century later. ... 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year of the Ocean. ...


Improved efficiency of rack-mounted equipment

Upgrades that previously took days are now taking only a few minutes because rack-resident equipment can be easily moved in and out of rack-mount designs. In Artecon's solution, the racks offer unobstructed backplane access, while the workstations stay in their original casing. These facts also bode well for the future because MCI will be able to conduct quick, smooth upgrades whenever Sun offers new Sparc versions. Minimizing labor time is not the Sphinx rack's only benefit. The rack is designed only slightly larger than the Sparc 20 itself, so that the server footprint is kept to a minimum.


That is especially true of the last few years. Many telcos hoping to establish more efficient operations have launched projects to re-engineer their COs only to find that the execution of these projects is impractically slow or complex. However, competition is a forceful hand if ever the industry has seen one, and modernizing the network every 30 years will no longer suffice. Rack-mount frameworks may be a quick, methodical solution for bringing networks into the 1990s and beyond.


Migration from X.25 to IP

Because of the BT / MCI splitup, it was not 100% sure what would happen in the future. The most logical step was that the US part of Tymnet would remain within MCI. The non-US part would likely remain Concert. MCI migrated their nodes to SUN Sparcs and Concert migrated their nodes to Telematics ACP/PCPs running TYM2. It is known that Tymnet is providing a lot of financial profit to their owners because of the worldwide service availability and reliability.


The Concert packet switching network was migrated to an IP based platform by the end of 2002. In February, 2004, Tymnet was officially shut down.[1] For the Cusco album, see 2002 (album). ... 2004 (MMIV) was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Tymnet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2026 words)
Tymnet was extensively used by large companies to provide dial-up services for their employees who were "on the road", as well as a gateway for users to connect to large online services such as CompuServe or The Source.
Tymnet II was developed to ameliorate the problems outlined above by off-loading some of the work-load from the supervisor and providing greater flexibility in the network by putting more intelligence into the node code.
Tymnet II ran in parallel with the original network, which continued to run on the Varian machines until it was phased out over a period of several years.
Talk:Tymnet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1849 words)
Tymnet further on proceeded by the partition of its global system into “externets” (name picked later on from Jon Postel “external networks” since several were using the Tymnet technology) to respect national sovereignties.
Tymnet's documentation/brochure was named "Passport to Information" and we (through the INTLNET entity) maintained a common information file (INTLFILE) on every public service their own information centres used (it is still operated and one can find its daily update on the DNS top zone on the NICSO.org site).
Joseph Rinde joined the TYMNET group in 1972 and began porting the Supervisor to the Interdata 7/32, because the 8/32 was not yet ready.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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